8 ways you can prepare for Ramadan
The new year signals an opportunity to set goals we want to achieve over 2022 and in just two months we have the special month that helps us reach a lifetimes worth of benefit — Ramadan.
Most of us would put “make the most of Ramadan” as one of our goals for the year, so here’s 8 steps to prepare yourself to achieve that goal.
1. Set aside money to spend on charity in Ramadan
Charity is a special type of investment — the returns are received in the next life in the form of divine rewards. That ‘investment’ is worth more in Ramadan. It means your charity will go a lot further in that month compared to others.
So, have a plan to keep a pot aside where you deposit an amount of money each week up until Ramadan.
Narrated Ibn `Abbas: The Prophet (PBUH) was the most generous of all the people, and he used to become more generous in Ramadan when Gabriel met him. Gabriel used to meet him every night during Ramadan to revise the Quran with him. Allah's Messenger then used to be more generous than the fast wind. Sahih al-Bukhari 3554
2. Increase the recitation of Quran so you’re ready to read more in Ramadan
You cannot expect to complete a marathon by just turning up on the day without any training. Just like every Ramadan, this year many people will set the noble intention to read the Quran cover to cover. But if you have not been reading the Quran on a regular basis, how can you complete a full reading in one month?
Make it easy on yourself and set a few minutes aside every day — say 5-10 minutes after each salat to read a portion of Quran. Then increase that time by a minute or two every week so by the time you get to Ramadan, you can comfortably read for a long period of time.
“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for guidance and the criterion.” (2:185)
3. Connect with family members you don't usually talk to
Ramadan helps families get together to observe the special qualities of the month; like sitting around the dinner table for Iftar and going to the mosque together for Taraweeh.
Spending time with family is an act of worship and it's rewarded by Allah (SWT) immensely outside of Ramadan. So, imagine how much more it would be within it?
Don’t just wait until Ramadan to invite family around for Iftar parties. Build your connection from now through regular messages, calls or visits so that you can enter Ramadan with a strong bond of love that will only increases through observing it together.
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (PBUH) said, "Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should serve his guest generously; and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should unite the bond of kinship (i.e. keep good relation with his kith and kin); and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should talk what is good or keep quiet." Sahih al-Bukhari 6138
4. Make a daily Dua to Allah that he allows you experience a Ramadan full of Barakah
Imagine there was £1m waiting for you in a months' time and all you had to do was to ask the owner to give it to you. But Ramadan is more valuable than £1m - and it’s just a few weeks away!
To obtain its rewards, virtues and blessings all you need to do is lift your hands and ask Allah sincerely to allow you to experience it and benefit from it. Making this daily Dua will keep your mind and heart alive with the excitement of Ramadan and prime you to make the most of it when it arrives.
Salman al-Farsi reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, Allah is conscientious and generous. He would be shy, when a man raises his hands to Him, to turn them away empty and disappointed.” Sunan al-Tirmidhī 3556
5. Cut out bad habits so it's easy to give them up completely in Ramadan
Habits are actions that have formed through repetition. They become so natural that you can do them without much thinking and effort.
It can be mundane things like brushing your teeth or productive things like having a set time for gym. But sometimes the habits are damaging and possibly sinful.
For most people if they quit a bad habit cold turkey, they often rebound and fall back into that habit very quickly. You cannot expect to enter Ramadan with habitual sins and expect the glory of the month to take it all away from you.
You need to start working on getting rid of that sin from now so that when Ramadan comes, you have no problem leaving it completely.
Try to keep a track of when you fall into that sin and think about what triggers or situations are associated with it. Then find out how to minimise or lose those triggers and situations.
The Prophet (SAW) said, “Verily, Gabriel came to me and he said: Whoever reaches the month of Ramadan and he is not forgiven, then he will enter Hellfire and Allah will cast him far away, so say amin. I said amin.” Ṣaḥīḥ Ibn Ḥibbān 915
6. Plan now to work around work/study commitments
Unlike the fixed Gregorian calendar, the Hijri calendar changes according to the sighting of the moon. And as we all know, that means Ramadan falls in a different Gregorian month every year, which can cause clashes with our fixed work/school/university timetables.
Therefore, it is particularly important to plan and make sure you check what commitments fall during Ramadan. It’ll help you prepare for them and make the most of your time during the holy month.
Adding the predicted Ramadan dates to your work/school/university calendar can help you see what is coming up. Then block out time for worship so you don’t end up booking in extra commitments during that time.
Ibn Abbas reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Take advantage of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your illness, your riches before your poverty, your free time before your work, and your life before your death.” Shu’ab al-Imān 9767
7. Increase in Dhikr so you enter Ramadan with a clean heart
There are many virtues and benefits that make this month special and holy, so you don’t want to enter it at any disadvantage.
Just as a boxer would go through months of training to be the best on fight night, so should a believer go through intense purification to show up in Ramadan as the best worshipper.
Cleanse your heart of any defects now so that you can receive the full light and blessings of Ramadan from the start.
To do this choose a small phrase of Dhikr and consciously repeat it at intervals in the day, like when walking between destinations, when cooking food, after praying or before going to sleep. And then change this phrase every week to keep your heart alive with the remembrance of Allah.
Ibn Al-Qayyim said, “The heart is tarnished by two matters: negligence and sin. And it is polished by two matters: seeking forgiveness and the remembrance of Allah.” al-Wābil al-Ṣayyib 1/40
8. Create excitement in your house so everyone looks forward to the month
There are so many festivities and celebrations throughout the year that grab our attention, which can often mean important dates in the Islamic calendar like Ramadan and Eid are sidelined.
It's often a sudden realisation that Ramadan is here again so we don’t have an exciting build up towards it — and that can leave us feeling flat in the first few days of the holy month.
Well, this is your notice that Ramadan is coming up very soon so get the excitement in your household buzzing — especially for children. Start talking about the virtues of Ramadan to your family. Start decorating your houses. Start looking forward to the day of Eid.
All of this makes us feel more excited about the month, which then helps both adults and children, enter the month with high spirits!
Imam Abu Bakr al-Warraq al-Balkhi (rh), the uncle of Imam Tirmidhi (rh), said: ‘The month of Rajab is the month of planting (your seeds), Sha‘ban is the month of irrigating / watering (them), and Ramadan is the month of harvesting the crop’. Lataiful Ma’arif, pg. 218, Al Maktabul Islami edition
May Allah accept our Ramadan!
Written by Shoaib Mohammed, Islam Channel producer